Monday, June 29, 2009

A breakfast of sorts

OK, since I'm obviously not doing at all well in controlling my Type 2 diabetes based on the evidence of my last blood tests, I have to make some fairly drastic changes in my lifestyle.

I believe that a low-carb, high-fiber (40-55 grams per day) diet that includes lots of vegetables and some fruit, along with aerobic exercise (rowing, cycling), strength training (free weights), and stretching (yoga) will improve my blood glucose, reduce my A1C, and will reduce my need for medications, and maybe finally reduce my LDL cholesterol. That's been the goal all along. I would also like to win a big lottery jackpot, but if I don't buy tickets, there's not much chance, is there? No.

So I've promised myself (again) to try to fix things. So for either breakfast or lunch the last few days I've been making a ridiculous drink that contains:
  • Inulin, a soluble pre-biotic fiber that does not affect blood sugar
  • Chia seed, very high in fiber, very low in net carbs, and high in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
  • Glutamine powder, which provides a non-essential amino acid (protein building block), and may be useful in reducing carb cravings (please, please!)
  • Soy isolate protein powder, a low-carb, high-protein product
  • Unsweetened soy milk
  • Psyllium husk for soluble and insoluble fiber
  • Cocoa powder for a bit more fiber, iron, and chocolate flavour.

This makes about 1.5 cups of a thick crunchy brown drinkable mess (which doesn't actually taste too bad) with 13g net carbs (and about 10g fiber), 11g healthy fat, 215 calories (more or less) and 35G protein. Then I drink about 500ml water to wash it all down.

Now, if I don't sabotage myself by consuming high-carb processed crap between (or instead of) regular meals, I should see some results. Right?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stop the diabetes, I want to get off!

I had really disappointing results from my recent blood test -- since I lowered my dietary cholesterol to 5 mg per day or less by reducing meat, dairy, fish, and eggs in my diet, the LDL has gone UP (though the HDL and triglicerides are still good). I finally accepted a statin prescription for Crestor.

Also my A1C (aka HBA1C or glycosylated hemoglobin) went up instead of down. That's mainly because 1) I "forget" my nighttime insulin quite often, as well as the oral meds, and 2) I eat too much starchy food (even though it's whole grain), and 3) I don't prepare and eat the vegetables I buy.

And I don't seem to have enough energy to exercise, which is a symptom of uncontrolled blood sugar. But I need to exercise to help control my blood sugar -- it's a vicious cycle for sure.

David Mendosa is a type 2 diabetic who was overweight (BMI of 40) and had an A1C of over 14% when he was diagnosed. He learned how to manage his own DM and now has a BMI of 19 (very good) and an A1C well under 6.0, which is about what non-diabetic people average. I read his column (click here to read it: about what motivates him to control his own diabetes and to help motivate just one other person at a time.

You can imagine that I have a lot of work to do to get such control!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Garbage piling up

The garbage being reported about the city workers' strike, that is. After three days drivers are already lining up at waste transfer stations to toss their household waste, but strikers are making each supplicant wait 15 minutes, causing four-hour lineups. I wonder how many of those drivers leave their motors idling on these increasingly hot and humid days... I have no opinions on the strikers' or the city's issues, although if you can avoid using up your sick days, you ought to get some credit for that.

Last year homeowners and landlords in Toronto had to choose a garbage bin they thought they could fit two weeks' worth of garbage in. The mid-sized (1.5 bag size) to extra-large bins (I think four bags fit) have incremental costs associated with them, while the smallest bin (one bag) garners a $10 per year rebate on our solid waste management bill. I'm frugal (well, cheap), I recycle everything I can, and avoid excess packaging---well, we're all supposed to do that! So I generally put out the equivalent of one bag a month.

Our last bi-weekly garbage pickup was a week ago Tuesday. This week would have been recycling. Our Green Bins are emptied every week, because they hold compostable material including the stinky, attractive stuff like bones and fat and disposable diapers. And dogs and raccoons tip them over and scavenge what they can, leaving the crap strewn on the sidewalk for birds and squirrels and cats to pick over.

Now, we had lots of warning about this. The Green Tenant alerted us early enough, and provided numerous options for surviving a garbage strike, including some from his six-year-old son. So why didn't people adjust their habits JUST IN CASE? I guess some of us did. If the strike lasts another month, I'll probably have a bag and a half to go out. And being mostly vegetarian now I'll be able to compost almost everything except the used cat litter.

Which reminds me---I should go down and declump my babies' litter boxes today. I'll store the clumps in my old garbage can.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

An almost pleasant dental cleaning

I finally got to the dental office this morning for my tri-annual cleaning (just before my medical benefits end). I'd put it off for a week or so because I just didn't feel like going. So of course I frantically flossed, brushed, and rinsed this morning and drove up to my excellent dentist, with whom I've been a patient for over 15 years.

I've written about this before---over the past year or so, regular use of Crest Pro-Health toothpaste, Oral-B toothbrushes, and regular flossing have reduced my time in the hygienist's chair by about 25 percent. I no longer have dark brown stains on the inside gum line from smoking, strong black coffee, too much red wine, and "forgetting" to brush and floss.

I got "vanity" braces as an adult in 1992 (very successful, though due to bone loss I lost a molar due to bone infection and just got a permanent bridge to replace it). And I still have a bonded retainer on the lower inside teeth from when I got the train tracks off in (I think) 1994. I've argued with Dr. Dave about removing it but he says he regrets getting HIS retainer removed. The retainer makes it difficult (though not impossible) to floss down there. But while he thought the toothpaste was gritty when he first started using it himself he likes it a lot now.

Me too. But when I tried to e-mail Crest today I didn't get much luck. I'd like to tell them myself how well it works from a dental hygiene dilettante.

Online medical records...NOT

I wanted to get my prescriptions refilled before my benefits run out on Thursday. Last week I dropped in at my doctor's office, filled a few vials from a very belated blood requisition with the phlebotomist, and talked to my GP for a few minutes. She opened my secure personal file on her computer, and noted that last time we'd talked she still wanted me on a statin (but I had wanted to try to get my LDL cholesterol down by lifestyle changes, which she had also noted). She took my blood pressure (120/80) and added it to my records. She renewed all my prescriptions online by direct link with my drugstore, and by the time I got there an hour later my oral meds, insulin, test strips, and Novofine needle caps were waiting for me, along with my bill for the co-payment. Earlier this week I received an e-mail requesting my presence ("please call for an appointment") and a copy of my blood test results for me to review before I went to the medical office.

Then I woke up.

Between 2002 and 2005, I knew or heard of a dozen people (literally) from my then-workplace who left to pursue careers at the then-new-ish Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA, now eHealth, which has been in the news a lot recently). I even applied for a job there... These were all business analysts, project managers, database administrators, programmers, and so on. It was a pretty exciting idea---develop software and processes to create secure online medical records for most Ontario residents. (I think they all left SSHA to take productive jobs.)

And after years of hot air and multimillions of tax-payer-funded dollars spent, most Ontario residents still don't have online medical records. From the link above: "2007 statistics show that 25 per cent of family physicians in Ontario have electronic records, compared to 50 per cent in Albert, 89 per cent in the United Kingdom and 98 per cent in the Netherlands." Probably a few remaining rural Dutch residents who still live in windmills (kidding).

In fact all that happened last week at the doctor's office was true, except for the online medical records part, which I made up (and I did thank everyone for letting me in without an appointment). It was when I got to the pharmacy that I found that the doctor had neglected to write my name at the top of the prescription form. This was on Sunday, and of course I had put off getting the thing filled until I ran out of something, so of course the pharmacist couldn't fill the prescriptions. They've known me for years, but rules are rules, though I did get a few pills to tide me over.
I went back Monday and asked about my prescriptions. The druggist on duty said there had been nothing faxed from the doctor's office though the office manager had called me that morning, asked me to come in to review the blood test results, and assured me they had indeed faxed the correct information. So the druggist went to the fax machine and there was the corrected form under a bunch of others. It was a busy early Monday afternoon (and very hot outside), and the 15 minutes I was told I had to wait turned into well over an hour.

I was finally transferring my goodies to my bag when I noted to the pharmacist that the NPH insulin I use was in a new package. He said, no, it's the same package, and opened one to show me a large vial that you fill disposable needles from. He then realized that the "pen caps" on my prescription were for a different injection system, and I had to wait another 15 minutes while they corrected the prescription and adjusted the bill upward somewhat. (They still owe me two months' worth of one of the orals, for which they didn't have enough in stock. If there had been an online order they could have had it restocked before I got there.)

While I waited---again---I used the in-store blood pressure monitor: 118/75, though my pulse was over 120. I'm sure that by the time I retire at age 75 the province will be able to read the RFID chip in my arm and tell me I'm not eligible to be diabetic anymore. But it was a lovely dream while it lasted.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

it's not this, it's that

My friend AL reminded me: "you didn't get fired .. you got downsized .. there is a huge difference between the two." (I didn't know then but I've since learned there has been at least one other person let go and a number of reporting structure changes.)

Well, yes, there is, especially when an interviewer asks why I left my last job (but maybe they're not allowed to do that). I could say I was laid off---but that implies a possible return to work. I wouldn't say I was fired, because there was no cause, and I did get a package. I could say I was terminated, but that just sounds like fired again, with an unhappy parting of the ways. I won't say I was down-sized, because they might just hire a contractor to continue where I left off (unlikely). And some companies call it right-sizing because they're adjusting the workforce to match the work needing to be done. Note that they never ADD people when they're right-sizing.

Anyway, my cats have been a tremendous comfort, snuggling up beside me in bed, stomping all over the keyboard, and barfing up hairballs in ill-planned places. They don't care that I was booted out---they're just happy to have me at home.

Monday, June 15, 2009

And another thing...

When I went grocery shopping yesterday I picked from my huge collection of reusable shopping bags. Since June 1, Toronto merchants must now charge five cents per plastic bag they distribute, even the little markets and non-food retailers.

That hasn't affected me too much, since I've been bringing reusable bags to the store for years, even before they were heavily promoted. (And I saved my recyclable cans, bottles and papers and dragged them down to Guelph's public recycling bins as early as 1982.)

But the black cloth-like ones made of recycled soft drink bottles, while they're washable, are collectors of lint and hair. While they're still usable, they don't look too hot. I paid 99 cents for most of them, and got a few free at the Green Living Show the last few years. They ARE re-recyclable (is that a word? I guess it is now).

But the ones I like best are made of a light tarp material (plastic coated), and they are larger and have longer handles. I'm sure if I made a pile of all my bags they'd block the front door.

So, it's time to cull---I've had good responses to most of my FreeCycle and ReUseIt posts, so I guess I'll try there first. Someone with a little patience and time to kill can probably clean them up.

UPDATE: Within a few minutes of posting my offer of a dozen used and new shopping bags, I got a response, and the bags were picked up off the porch that very afternoon. A minor step in decluttering...

Next steps in life, etc.

"There is nothing like a dream to create the future." Victor Hugo

Well, I hope the rather nasty dream last night about maxing out my line of credit doesn't pan out.

1. It's probably time to move out of my comfort zone in my career. I'm not talking about freelancing, since it would take too long to get back a reputation and regular clients. I've been in IT full time for 20 years. And while contracts have been lucrative and have led to full time employment, the per-hour rate, even for senior/experienced tech writers, has dropped drastically. But there's a nifty position (full time, permanent) in downtown Toronto that I'm probably partly qualified for. (What am I saying?! I AM qualified for it! They'd be crazy not to hire me!!)

2. Diehl and Ludington, who wrote my little bible, Take Charge of Your Health, recommend (no, command) no added sugar in the diet, and to eat "foods as grown." I've eliminated most of the cholesterol from my diet, and I drink diet-decaf cola to partly satisfy those horrible cravings---but colas deplete bone mass, and as a PMW (post-menopausal woman) with a very low body-mass index (BMI), I can't afford that. "No added sugar" probably also means those artificial ones in sugar-free gum, meal replacement bars and drinks (even those with a low Glycemic Index for diabetics), and low- or zero-fat yogurt. It means no cheating, which I do several times a week, with healthful bran or whole wheat muffins from a popular outlet I call Timmy Ho's, as well as downright indulgences in whole boxes of cookies. I have a great recipe for low-fat (1/4 cup) banana loaf with NO added sugar (since I forgot to add sugar to the batter once, and it turned out perfectly and tasted wonderful). But once it's out of the oven I can't resist it.

3. While I'm job hunting, I should have the time and energy to finally declutter the house. I bought a couple of books on organizing (even one for people with ADHD/ADD). I'd like to hire some help, but I really don't want to spend the money. Though it would make my life so much easier...

Finally, here's a what a dandelion looks like, just for Guacamole Jim (grins, ducks, runs).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Girlz n the Hood

I've lived on this street for over 10 years now. Since then, quite a few houses have been sold and re-sold to young couples who've since started their families. I can recall three or four boys arriving, and there have been a few longer-resident families with boys. But most of the people who've delivered their spawn (or moved in with kids) have had girls. They range in age from one to 18 or so. On every pleasant day (and evening) the mid-aged ones (say four to 13) shriek, shrill, squeal, scream, yell, and twitter. They run across the street without looking both ways for cars, and are continually being yelled at for "forgetting" their bike helmets. On milder days (15C/60F and up) they're out there in shorts and Ts, and on warmer days they're running through the sprinkler or hurling water balloons at each other. On cooler days they play complicated female social games with arcane rules that continually change (somewhat like Calvin and Hobbes's baseball game). They leave their bikes and toys on the sidewalk or by the curb, huddle on my porch peering in through the front door to look for cats, and generally terrorize the 'hood.

Their brothers and the other boys are quieter as a rule, preferring inline skating, skateboarding, riding bikes, or playing road hockey next to the street sign that says Absolutely No Road Hockey. ("Car!" Then the scrape of hockey nets being dragged to the side.)

There's a sweet, shady little playground with a wading pool at the south end of the street behind the church, and another park, better equipped and much larger and brighter, just three blocks away. (That's also where the Organic Farmers' Market is held.)

But go one street over and it's empty and quiet. Little girls and boys peep through the chain link fences surrounding their yards, which are filled with play sets and other paraphernalia, and the children are pale and chubby. My neighbours' kids are all long and lean, freckled and fit, and have endless energy, which I of course envy.

Fitness/gym programs at schools and recess games have been supplanted by organized sports a couple of times a week (hockey--expensive, and soccer--cheap), and kids will stay indoors glued to TV, online games, or the Internet, rather than go out and play if they aren't given the boot. Results? Childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes in childhood, fatty liver disease, high cholesterol in childhood, and heart disease. Among other things, including lower ability to learn in school.

Helicopter parents aren't strictly to blame for this, of course. Though these neighbourhoods are generally safe, cars do zoom by even during the day, trying to escape the left-hand turn at the major intersection one street over (but they meet a cul de sac and have to zoom back again). And there are a couple of drunks on the street and in the boarding house, though there's generally safety in numbers.

Well, it's time to get active -- I have my shopping list nearly done. Maybe I'll add balloons...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

When one door closes...

Another opens. I got fired today.

Then I took some pictures of my peonies. They're really pretty. (Click the image to see a full-sized version. I'm very pleased with it.)

Then I got drunk.

Tomorrow I'll update my resume.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Reckless Disregard

(n) the phrase Reckless disregard is used to represent (the) utmost stage of negligence in doing anything with a mentality of disregarding the existence of the society and its well being.

I had to look that up to be sure I was going to use it correctly -- turns out I'm not. But I'm gonna say it anyway.

I was an eBay seller (and buyer) for a few years. I had good sales for vintage Pyrex that I picked up on the cheap at thrift stores, and I made enough profit selling used coffee makers to buy a nice Kohler two-basin porcelain and cast iron sink for my kitchen renovation. Then the market, and my enthusiasm, seemed to dry up. But I never lost the habit picking up various boxes and packing material, and now that stuff's all over the house. And even under my desk at work (you get marvellous boxes and things from IT departments).

With reckless disregard ("reckless" being redundant, as one definition said, but that's lawyerly hyperbole), I will break down all the boxes that my own appliances didn't come in (but why I keep those, when I'm not moving any time soon, is beyond my understanding) and put them out for recycling or FreeCycling. (I'll keep the packing material, though, for a number of reasons, one of which is I hate to throw it out. Maybe I will FreeCycle some of it.)

Speaking of recycling, I used to feel smug and self-righteous about ordering the smallest bins the city was offering (even getting a rebate on my garbage bill). But as I took a few items out to my Blue Bin this morning I realized I hadn't put it out two weeks before, and it's nearly full, probably for the first time. I have quite a bit I'm hoping to stuff in by Tuesday at 7 am.

The point being, to clear out unused and extra items to make room for all the stuff cluttering the house. Yes, I still have hope.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oh, thank dog for running water

I don't know how I lived like this. I haven't had hot water in the shower for over a month. I haven't been able to take a shower, flush the toilet unless I filled the cistern with rain water, do laundry, or wash dishes for nearly a week. My handyman did what he could this evening, and I am now back to where I started: water everywhere but in the tub. I can turn on the hot water tap and possibly the cold with a wrench and get a shower out of it, but I have my doubts.

How do people live without running water? Well, they don't. Many die due to drinking contaminated water. But if you are dying of thirst, what do you drink? Whatever there is. This is from Wikipedia: "Throughout most of the world the most common contamination of raw water sources is from human sewage and in particular human faecal pathogens and parasites. In 2006, waterborne diseases were estimated to cause 1.8 million deaths each year while about 1.1 billion people lacked proper drinking water." And that was 3 years ago; probably more now.

Canada is one of the richest fresh-water countries in the world. And Canadians are doing what they can to help the world's people to get access to clean water. And are talking about selling our clean water to other countries, without, it seems, considering the consequences for future generations.

And many corporations, such as mine, are reviewing the consequences of providing water in plastic bottles when most tap water in Canada is practically free and uncontaminated (or filtered water is provided). The cost of bottled water (even when you buy a case at your local gas station it costs more than gas itself) typically doesn't include the cost of the bottles, the petroleum resources to manufacture the bottles and packaging materials, ship them to wholesale and retail outlets, and pay for either the garbage or recycling.